Solar Panels to be Installed on White House Residence

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Nancy Sutley today announced plans to install solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House Residence. These two solar installations will be part of a Department of Energy demonstration project showing that American solar technologies are available, reliable, and ready for installation in homes throughout the country.

Secretary Chu and Chair Sutley made the announcement during CEQ’s 2010 GreenGov Symposium, which is bringing together leaders from Federal, state, and local governments, nonprofit, and academic communities and the private sector to identify opportunities around greening the Federal Government.

“This project reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home,” said Secretary Chu. “Deploying solar energy technologies across the country will help America lead the global economy for years to come.”

“President Obama has said the Federal Government has to lead by example in creating opportunity and jobs in clean energy,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country, his residence, the President is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States.”

The PV system will convert sunlight directly to electricity. The solar hot water heater will have a solar collector facing the sun that will heat water for use in the White House Residence. The Department of Energy will now begin a competitive procurement process to select the company responsible for the installations.

By installing solar panels on their homes, consumers are able to effectively lock in the price of electricity they will pay in the years ahead, acting as an insulator against future rises in electricity prices since the systems installed in homes today are expected to last approximately thirty years. Financial incentives are also available to offset the initial costs of installing solar energy systems, including a 30 percent federal tax credit and additional state, local, and utility incentive programs to encourage the deployment of renewable energy. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency has additional information about state, local, and utility rebates for solar generation throughout the country.

The deployment of solar energy and other renewable energy sources will help expand U.S. clean energy manufacturing and create new jobs for American workers. As a result of investments under the Recovery Act, the solar energy industry is growing and solar resources can now be seen in communities nationwide. In the coming years, continued investments in innovation and cutting-edge solar technologies will help make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional electricity sources all across the country.

This announcement is made on the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s Executive Order 13514 on Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, which called on the Federal Government to lead by example towards a clean energy economy and reduce, measure, and report direct and indirect greenhouse gas pollution. In support of this goal, the Department of Energy also released “Procuring Solar Energy: A Guide for Federal Facility Decision Makers” to support the use of solar energy throughout the Federal Government.

Regarding the White House announcement, Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), commented, “Putting solar on the roof of the nation’s most important home is a powerful symbol calling on all Americans to rethink how we create energy. It’s an example of how each one of us can improve energy security, employ Americans and cut energy costs. I can speak from personal experience that taxpayers will benefit. In the four years since I’ve had solar on my house, I’ve gotten a better return on my solar system than on my 401(k).”

According to SEIA, the Obama family joins the Resch family and hundreds of thousands of Americans who have already gone solar, including dozens of members of Congress, former presidential advisors like Reagan Secretary of State George Shulz, and former CIA director James Woolsey.

Resch continued, “Right now, solar energy is being manufactured in the United States. It is being installed on tens of thousands of homes each year across the nation in all 50 states. And it is creating jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans. Obama’s decision to install solar on the White House is a prominent example of how solar is working for America today.”

Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA is working to build a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy.

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